Leonard's star rises in Hollywood — not DC (12.19.08)
Franklin Leonard has landed in Hollywood — not Washington.
Guess my theory about the talented Brookstone High grad ending up in the White House or the U.S. Senate is shot.
Tinsel Town or the Nation's Capitol, success was inevitable. It was always written all over him in big bold letters.
Leonard is Director of Development at Universal Pictures and recently he participated in something Entertainment Weekly called “the coolest event in Hollywood.”
With the push of the send button on his computer Leonard sent out the 2008 edition of the Black List — his annual ranking of Hollywood’s best unproduced screenplays. As his message arrived, a feeding frenzy erupted among the film industry’s development community, the magazine described.
Entertainment Weekly did a feature story on Leonard that you can read by clicking here.
My first brush with him was in the press box of Golden Park. As a junior high kid, he operated the message board at the ballpark. I sat in as official scorer and we were next to one another.
Asked about his interest in baseball, he said he was doing a class paper on the Negro Leagues. Trying to be helpful, I mentioned that home run legend Josh Gibson was from Buena Vista. That was this young man’s cue to tell me more than I ever knew about Josh Gibson and the Negro Leagues. He surely didn't need help from me.
As a high school senior, he earned his share of awards. His brother Marshall followed him and his talent was on the soccer field. Marshall Leonard starred at Brookstone and Shaw before a four-year career at the University of Virginia. He spent five years with the New England Revolution of the Major League Soccer Association.
That Franklin Leonard was bright was apparent early but this wasn’t a scholar that only focused on textbooks and test scores. Yes, he was Brookstone’s Star Student and yes he went on to graduate from Harvard. But his list of interests was unusual and broad.
Last I heard, he was a budding writer with a passion for politics. He worked in the trenches of politics and that led to my assumption of big things for him. I had never heard of Barack Obama. I honestly thought Leonard could be the first African American elected President.
Big things are happening for him but not in politics. Until this summer he worked for Mirage, a prominent production company headed by Hollywood insiders. When the two principals —Anthony Minchella and Sydney Pollack — both died suddenly, Leonard landed at Universal. With him he carried the listing of screenplays that has become such a hot item.
So remember that name: Franklin Leonard.